Cybercriminals seek out organisations that seem unsuspecting. Unfortunately, churches often just offer what they’re looking for.
Somewhere in the United States of America, a pastor poser is using people’s empathy to break a basic commandment by asking someone a congregant for money to help a friend with cancer.
Reverend Doctor Jeffrey DeYoe of the Covenant Presbyterian Church in Fort Myers, Florida, said a scammer sent a text message to parishioners posing as a pastor, asking for $500 in a Google Play gift cards saying it is for a friend going through cancer. He said the digital culprit hacked his personal email in October, and that is how the scammer was able to gain access to the contact information.
Rev. DeYoe said this is the second time this year it’s happened. The first incident was an email sent to congregants that asked for money via gift cards.
The second incident happened within the past week. This time, the scammer was personal with parishioners. Some members reported receiving a text message that again impersonated the reverend.
The text message claimed that Pastor DeYoe had a friend who was battling cancer and needed $500 in Google Play gift cards. The text ended with, “I’ll pay back.”
Although no church members fell for the scam, Pastor DeYoe said this would not only be unethical to do but is not how the church operates. Covenant Presbyterian Church’s mission is to help others.
“It’s disheartening. It’s disappointing. But I’m not surprised that’s just life on the internet these days,” he said.
The church says it forgives whoever is behind the crime but wants to warn others about the scam.
Pastor Deyoe has already informed his congregation.
“Unfortunately, doing this to a church is not a good thing, and I’ll let God worry about that in terms of how to judge this person,” he said.
Deacon Rosemary Wallace believes this is a sign of the times.
“It’s devastating, and it’s really sad that that’s what this world has come to,” she said.
Similar scams have been happening across the world.
In March, American channel NBC2 reported on a similar scam where church members of Saint Andrews Catholic Church on Del Prado Boulevard in Cape Coral received text messages from someone impersonating their Pastor who asked for gift cards. A woman reported to the Cape Coral Police Department that she fell victim to the fraud.
Although investigators said, it is difficult to catch the scammers, reporting it to law enforcement can allow them to document it and warn others in our community.
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